“It just makes us more aware,” he said. “It’s a tragic situation and everyone is a little more conscious about what’s going on.”
Wachusett doesn’t see many head injuries, he added. “The main thing with these injuries is these people with a helmet, too, they’re overconfident when they put it on their head,” Halloran said.
That’s a prevalent concern. Al Fletcher, president of the Nashoba Valley Ski Area, said one of the reasons helmets are recommended but not required is because of the potential for neck injuries — if a helmet gets caught on something, for example.
“We would never mandate something like that because what if someone got one of those sorts of injuries, and wouldn’t have if they didn’t have it on,” he said. “We as a ski area recommend the use because more often than not it can help you.”
No ski areas require all skiers to wear a helmet, according to association spokesman Byrd, although some mandate them for youngsters taking lessons.
Helmet concerns were also addressed in the review of studies published last month. Researchers, including lead author Adil H. Haider, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, found that helmets do not appear to increase so-called “risk compensation” behavior, neck injuries, or cervical spine injuries.
Nashoba, like many other ski areas, uses Lids on Kids materials to get the attention of young skiers and boarders. Its website, www.lidsonkids.org, emphasizes the importance of a good fit, has tips for parents, and includes research on the topic.
Vero Piacentini, general manager of the Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton, said people ask whether they can use a hockey or bike helmet while skiing, but Blue Hills advises against such substitution helmets because they are not designed for the sport’s winter conditions.
Although he has noticed more people using helmets in recent years, Piacentini said, skiers and boarders aren’t thinking about head injuries the way that some other athletes do.
“I don’t know that people associate skiing with the typical sports injuries,” he said. “I listen to the radio and they’re talking about football as the primary thing that’s taking up all the news. I don’t know that people think of skiing as a contact sport.”